The Deep Submergence Insignia was approved Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Thomas Hayward on April 6, 1981. Eligibility requirements were quite simple: Anyone who had successfully completed one year of regular assignment to a Manned Deep Submersible, an Unmanned Deep Submersible, or a detachment supporting a deep submersible. Wear of the insignia by individuals is authorized by Squadron Commanders.

The badge is issued in gold and silver grades. Typically, Officers are issued the gold badge and enlisted personnel silver, but gold badges are also issued to Petty Officers and CPOs who earn the appropriate qualification, such as Deep Submergence Pilot.

An interesting feature of MILPERSMAN 1200-020, which outlines the qualifications and regulations regarding the Deep Submergence Insignia, is that it specifically mentions the USS Dolphin and NR-1 as vessels that qualify. The USS Dolphin was the last diesel-electric submarine in service in the U.S. Navy, notable for many achievements including deepest torpedo-launch depth and deepest submarine dive. Colloquially called the “Nerwin” and never officially commissioned (many claimed this was because it was designed primarily for black ops), the NR-1 was the world’s first nuclear-powered deep-submersible vessel. (A U.S. Navy Fact File refers to the “Nerwin” as the NR 1 Deep Submergence Craft, while a Gizmodo article says it was “officially” known as the Deep Submergence Vessel NR-1.)

The Deep Submergence Insignia features a broadside perspective of the bathyscaphe Trieste, the first manned vessel to reach the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench—the deepest point in the all the world’s oceans. Behind the Trieste is a vertical trident, and on either side of the vessel are what are described as “heraldic dolphins” which, to the uneducated eye, bear a closer resemblance to koi or carp than the they do to any member Flipper’s family.

The Deep Submergence pin is issued in either gold (officers) or silver (enlisted).

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